Immortality And Science -- By: James T. Bixby
BSac 41:161 (Jan 1884) p. 44
Immortality And Science
The venerable Bede, the monkish historian of the early days of England, relates that when Paulinus, one of the missionaries sent out by Pope Gregory to convert England to Christianity, entered. the domain of Edwin king of Northumberland the priests and warriors were assembled to deliberate whether they should allow him to preach, or not. Then a gray-haired chief arose and said, “Thou mayest remember, O king, a thing which sometimes happens when thou art seated at thy table with thy men of arms and captains, in the winter season, when the fire is kindled and the hall well warmed, while without wind and rain and storm are raging. Then comes a little bird, which traverses the room on fluttering wing, entering at one door and flying out at another. The moment of the passage is full of sweetness for it; but this interval is brief. It vanishes in the twinkling of an eye. It came out of the darkness, and it goes out into the darkness. None knows whence it came, and none knows whither it goes. So is our life. We come, and our wise men cannot tell us whence; we go, and they cannot tell us whither. Therefore, if there be any that can teach us more about it, in God’s name, let us hear them.”
Yes; if there be any that can tell us more about our whence and whither, in God’s name let us hear them! This is the cry that has gone up from many and many a heart beside that old barbarian’s — hearts of Christians as well as of heathen. Immortality! That single word awakens a whole world of thoughts. No theme more magnetic. No question of the many between science and religion which comes closer to our hearts. That mysterious realm of the
BSac 41:161 (Jan 1884) p. 45
beyond has engulfed the myriads of the past. Many dear to us have already entered it, never to return. We ourselves are fast moving forward to it — at any moment may break through the thin veil that alone divides us from it. What is it that awaits us there? At the present day we ask that question with an intenser eagerness than at any previous time. Through the revelations of science the horizon of our existence has come to appear comparatively so small; the limits of our range upon this terrestrial speck, so petty; this globe where the law of gravitation holds captive our body has been weighed and measured and analyzed so exactly, that our whole being leaps forward from this domain where scarcely a shred of mystery seems still left, to scrutinize the perspective of the future, and unriddle, if possible, its eternal enigma.
It is to the scientific Delphi, also, that we turn our footsteps to find the. oracle that may solve the anxious problem. Theology long ago told her story, and gave us her so...
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